Our staff has been noticing changes in the habitat at the Bluff. While some of these changes are local, others are more widespread. Check out our observations, and comment if some of these are happening near you as well!
- Song birds. According to Joe Deden, EB used to fill each bird feeder with 2 tons of birdseed each year. Now, 2 tons of birdseed is enough to fill all our feeders for the year, rather than just one. Joe guesses that large mono-cropping may have lowered songbird populations by limiting their habitat and resources. Some specific bird populations our staff has noticed have declined or depleted include quail, partridges, meadowlarks, and bobolinks.
- Foxes. Our staff can find plenty of evidence of coyotes in the area, and it makes sense that they’ve pushed our fox populations out. Perhaps some foxes have adapted by learning to survive in a more urban setting.
- Snow. In the past this area has typically received several feet of snow, but this year instead a series of rain and sleet storms blanketed the area with inches of ice.
- Invasive species. Though the Midwest has a lower human population than the coasts, the spread of invasive species is still affecting our region, albeit more slowly. As our winters get warmer, more invasive species will survive winters, and their strongholds will continue to multiply. Some invasives on the rise include Asian Lady Beetles, Honeysuckle, Buckthorn, and Garlic Mustard.
- Wild Game, specifically turkeys and white-tailed deer. Our hunter, Colleen Foehrenbacher, claims turkeys also are being sighted further north than they’ve been known to live in the past. Colleen adds that deer are edge creatures, and as we continue breaking up the land into sections, such as parks and farms, deer will continue to be near to humans.
- Turtles. Brent Anderson claims that as the number of crops near Eagle Bluff have decreased, the number of turtles have increased.
- Animals with altered ranges. Our staff is noticing more opossums and turkey vultures, which traditionally stayed further south.
- Plants with altered ranges. Specifically, consistent guest Hope Flanagan noticed that a plant called Angelica, which loves the banks near cold, running water, is now growing on sunny bluff tops.
- Shoot Tip Moths. Joe noticed curled tops to a few White Pines out at The Point, and he believes these moths are to blame. Their presence may critically affect our White Pine tree population in the coming years as they are known to slowly kill the trees. So far we have no way to prevent this from happening.
- Gnats. Brent says they come on days with higher temperatures, and we’ve been noticing them on our 90 degree days.
- Ticks. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that warmer winters are allowing much greater numbers and species of ticks to survive the cold months, which further allows ticks extend their range northward and westward.
- Heavier rainfalls. When the water comes in this more condensed fashion, it does not have a chance to soak into the earth and instead runs in paths over the land. This has caused our dirt roads, which have been well crafted for many years, to become washed out. Additionally, as the water travels, it erodes the land and joins the waterways. Once there, it raises water levels and erodes the banks until they become steeper.
What Can You Do?
- Notice what is in the habitat around you. Become familiar with it. Learn to identify a few plants, a few insects, a few mammals, a few birds, and so on.
- Observe them over time. And tell people about changes you see.
- Report your observations! If they’re habitat related, share them to an organization such as ISeeChange.org. If they’re weather related, tell NASA’s website at ISeeChange.gov.